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February 2013 Issue

SAIC Shows its Plans for ACTUV Prototype
Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), based in McLean, Virginia, has outlined in a computer-animated video how it envisions the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) will operate.

SAIC won last November a $58 million contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design, build and test the ACTUV prototype. The video of the ACTUV concept is available at http://bit.ly/X31nsl.

The ACTUV is projected to carry out 60-to-90-day deployments, with minimal human contact outside of when commanders need to make decisions based off the data it and other Navy technologies collect. One operator can cover several ACTUVs from a command center.

In up to sea state 5, the ACTUV can track, classify and infer the intent of other objects. It is survivable up to sea state 7, though some capabilities may be degraded, SAIC noted.

Long-range tracking is provided by midfrequency active-passive sonar, and as a target is closed, two higher-frequency active sonars with overlapping coverage are engaged to improve precision. A total field magnetometer array is used to provide additional information about target activity.

Very high-frequency sonar is used to take an acoustic image of the target and assess its specific classification. Radar and electro-optical keep an eye on the surface, so the ACTUV avoids contacts or collisions. While tracking, the ACTUV provides updates to the ASW commander over existing Navy satellite communications and infrastructure.

The ACTUV can follow targets—an electric-diesel-powered submarine, in the case of SAIC’s simulation—all the way to their homeport. Electric-diesel submarines concern the U.S. Navy not because of their strength (as the U.S. nuclear-powered subs are considerably more powerful) but their stealth and ability to run almost silently at low speeds.


DARPA Seeks Upward Falling Payloads
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January began soliciting research proposals for distributed unmanned sensors and systems for maritime applications.

These undersea drones would hibernate in deep-sea capsules for years, wake up when commanded, and deploy to surface providing operational support and situational awareness. In other words, they “fall upward.” DARPA seeks proposals in three areas for its Upward Falling Payloads program: communications, deep-ocean risers to contain the payloads and the actual payloads.

Today, cost and complexity limit the U.S. Navy to fewer weapons systems and platforms, so resources are strained to operate over vast maritime areas. Unmanned systems and sensors are commonly envisioned to fill coverage gaps.

DARPA will use ambient pressure containment with its risers, so there is no need for specialization of payloads to accommodate the extreme pressures of the deep sea. Communities with technical background in unmanned platforms, distributed sensors, networking, sensor packaging, information operations, electronic warfare and anti-submarine warfare may all be able to play a role. DARPA’s full program announcement is available at http://1.usa.gov/W4AvKm.


Lockheed Martin Acquires Assets of CDL Systems
Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, Maryland), a major contractor involved in several U.S. Navy projects, has acquired all of the assets of CDL Systems Ltd. (Calgary, Canada), a software engineering firm that develops and licenses vehicle control station software for unmanned systems.

CDL Systems will be integrated into Lockheed’s Mission Systems and Training (MST) business. Lockheed Martin reorganized its Electronic Systems division into two new businesses—MST, and Missiles and Fire Control.


Russia’s Naval Exercise Will be Largest in Decades
Four of the Russian Navy’s five fleets were scheduled to hold a joint exercise in late January in the Mediterranean and Black seas, global news channel RT (Russia Today) reported.

“The primary goal of the exercise is to train issues regarding formation of a battle group consisting of troops of different branches outside of the Russian Federation, planning of its deployment and managing a coordinated action of a joint navy group in accordance with a common plan,” the ministry’s information department said.

The exercise, the largest in decades, will include the loading of amphibious troops from an unprepared coast in the Northern Caucasus onto transport vessels, according to RT. Commands from the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific fleets have prepared for the exercises since December.

The announcement to hold the exercise came days after Russia launched its nuclear-powered submarine Vladimir Monomakh, the third Borei-class strategic submarine cruiser produced in the country.


2014:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT
2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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